Another summer, another parade of blockbusters attempting to keep movie studios in the black. But beside the action adventure films based on board games and comic book heroes, some of the most anticipated films of 2012 are its classic literary adaptations. Here’s a wrap up of five you can expect to see in cinemas over the next six months:
“The Great Gatsby”
High school students rejoice! The Great Gatsby, ever on the list of eNotes’ most popular literature study guides, has made it onto another shortlist. Steering away from the 1974 Mia Farrow, Robert Redford adaptation, you can expect Australian director Baz Luhrmann (“Romeo + Juliet”, “Moulin Rouge”) to take the story into exciting and modern (albeit 3D) territory. The new trailer, above, provides the first insight into the “Red Curtain”-style director’s take on the classic novel. The Los Angeles Times describes it “jazz age excess with a hip-hop flourish.” Look carefully in the trailer and you’ll spot some of the book’s iconic imagery–the “valley of ashes” and Doctor T.J. Eckleburg’s enormous billboard.
The unexpected Anna Karenina will feature Keira Knightley as Anna, Jude Law as Alexei, and a screenplay by Tom Stoppard, all directed by Joe Wright (“Atonement”, “Pride & Prejudice”). Let’s hope the powerhouse serves Tolstoy’s epic love story well, and that Knightley won’t reincarnate that awful Russian accent she put on for “A Dangerous Method”. Either way, Kleenex and company should at least see profits from the release of this heart-wrenching period drama.
“The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey”
We couldn’t have a list of anticipated movie adaptations without including the latest enterprise of one of the most popular literary film franchises in the world. “Twilight Breaking Dawn, Pt. 2″ will be released… Just kidding. It’s that lovable Kiwi Peter Jackson’s first installment of Tolkien’s famous work, titled “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.” My fourth-grade Tolkien-obsessed self is giddy with excitement. Martin Freeman of “Sherlock” and “The Office” (UK) plays Bilbo Baggins, while Sir Ian McKellan returns once more to play Gandalf the Grey. Alas, no Aragorn in this tale, though Jackson did work the cult favorite Figwit into the movie.
“On The Road”
Sam Riley plays Kerouac’s alter-ego Sal Paradise in the first adaptation of everyone’s favorite beat culture novel, On The Road. Produced by Francis Ford Coppola and directed by Walter Salles of “The Motorcyle Diaries” (he must be the go-to man for mind-altering road trip movies), the film is the first adaptation of the 1957 book. (Or 1951 scroll, if you’re being picky.)
“Life of Pi”
Orangutans, hyenas, and tigers, in a boat and directed by Ang Lee? Oh my! Another 3D flick, this adaptation of Yann Martel’s 2001 bestseller Life of Pi has been generating a lot of buzz ever since Lee premiered a 10-minute excerpt of the movie at CinemaCon in Las Vegas last month. The film, though still in the works, has already been praised for its aesthetic beauty, dream-like sequences, and Oscar-buzz-worthy special effects. It will be interesting to see the film tackle such fantastical elements in the book as the land of floating algae, not to mention the fact that almost the entire story is set on a boat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, with nothing but an Indian teen and a Bengal tiger to provide dialogue.
So, in your opinion which will soar to great heights and which will flop tremendously? In your book, are there certain novels that should just never be adapted to the screen, or will you find yourself heading to the box office for these? What book do you think deserves to be made into a movie, but continues to go without a script deal? We’d love to hear what you have to say.
Ah, YouTube. While it’s undoubtedly a place to be entertained, discover amazing talent, and even learn, it’s also home to pretty much the worst in lowest-common-denominator promotional content of every stripe. Several readers emailed the eNotes tipline to let us know about “Bikini Shakespeare”, a series that combines poor readings of the Bard’s work with, yes, bikini models. It’s all part of a promotional campaign for a popcorn brand. Sadly, these videos have millions of views, while our educational Video Study Guides for Hamlet have less then 50,000. But don’t worry, we won’t resort to bikinis to get more views!